Baton Rouge, LA – State coastal planners were confronted today with a newly public document showing that a proposed coal export terminal could seriously impair a critical element of the state master plan. The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) reached an agreement with a coal company, RAM Terminals, LLC, regarding operations of the proposed terminal on July 31st, 2013. The RAM terminal would be upstream and adjacent to the planned Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion (also known as the Myrtle Grove Medium Diversion). The document in question, a technical memorandum commissioned by the CPRA from the Water Institute of the Gulf and the CPRA’s engineering consulting firm ARCADIS, was obtained through a public records request by Gulf Restoration Network (GRN).
Key findings of the document include:
• The RAM facility could reduce sediment to the diversion “by nearly 17%.” From 80,000 to 500,000 tons of sand will be lost in a decade due to the presence of the RAM facility, assuming the diversion operates 30 days per year.
• Pollution from the RAM terminal will “be captured in the outfall channel [of the diversion project] and transported into the marsh areas.”
• The RAM terminal would be constructed on top of a “lateral bar,” an important and limited source of sand in the Lower Mississippi needed for coastal restoration. “The existence of the RAM loading facility on top of a lateral bar would severely limit the ability to harness the available sand…”
• The RAM facility’s proximity to the diversion intake poses navigation, erosion, and safety issues.
On July 31st, the CPRA and RAM Terminals, LLC signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) regarding operation of the facility and diversion. The MOA restricts operation of the diversion to fifteen days at a time, and a maximum of 75 days a year, even though hydrological studies of the diversion have not yet been completed, and more operational flexibility may be needed in a given year to maximize the diversion’s effectiveness.
In 2008, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issued Executive Order No. BJ 2008-7 requiring that all state agencies “administer their regulatory practices, programs, contracts, grants, and all other functions vested in them in a manner consistent with the Master Plan and public interest to the maximum extent possible.”
“Our state leaders cannot expect the federal government, the RESTORE Council, or anyone else to commit funding to the Master Plan when they continue to approve projects that undermine that plan,” said Steve Murchie, Campaign Director with Gulf Restoration Network. “The RAM terminal is a bad project on its own, and coal exports are a risky investment, but fouling up the Myrtle Grove diversion is another reason it shouldn’t be built.”
“Governor Jindal needs to get his people on the same page if he’s serious about coastal restoration. The CPRA should cancel their MOA with the RAM terminal and Louisiana Department of Natural Resources should reconsider any permits for the facility because it is inconsistent with the Master Plan,” said Murchie.
“The Myrtle Grove sediment diversion is an essential component of coastal restoration, but it must be operated according to a transparent plan, based on science, and not the whims of a mining company,” said Scott Eustis, M.S., Coastal Wetland Specialist for GRN. “This RAM coal terminal takes sediment out of the sediment diversion, and so this terminal takes land away from Louisiana. The state cannot allow this project, which is detrimental to the Mid Barataria Sediment Diversion.”
“The state needs to be monitoring existing diversions to collect the data necessary to manage Myrtle Grove, and should have started gathering that information years ago. We know the river isn’t clean, but it’s what we have to build land. We know that existing coal terminals are filthy, and constantly pollute the Mississippi River and contaminate its sediments. We already have to monitor for atrazine, and we don’t want to have to monitor for petroleum coke,” said Eustis.
RAM Terminal CFD Modeling Technical Memorandum
Memorandum of Agreement between State of Louisiana and RAM Terminals, LLC
Executive Order NO. BJ 2008–7 - http://1.usa.gov/15FrNth
Gulf Restoration Network (HealthyGulf.org) is a 19 year old non-profit dedicated to empowering people to protect and restore the health of the Gulf of Mexico. In response to the RAM terminal project and numerous similar threats throughout the region, Gulf Restoration Network has joined a multi-state coalition of individuals and groups, the Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition (CleanGulfCommerceCoalition.org), to stop the construction of new terminals, prevent the expansion of coal exports in the Gulf, and address ongoing pollution at existing terminals. The Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition includes Air Alliance Houston, Gulf Restoration Network, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), Public Citizen Texas, Sierra Club, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS), and Texas Organizing Project (TOP).